Recipes / Cabbage, Leeks, and White Beans with Pasta

Cabbage, Leeks, and White Beans with Pasta

By Kerri Conan

Published April 15, 2024

Mark's popular "more vegetables, less pasta" formula is ideal with hearty cabbage and whole wheat noodles. We used to think you needed chicken stock, but water creates a potent cooking liquid when the vegetables, pasta, and beans all have plenty of flavor.

Photo: Kerri Conan
Photo: Kerri Conan
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The silkiness of Napa provides the backdrop and I had just cooked some Camelia Brand dried baby limas, which made the sauce extra special. You can keep the dish vegan and sprinkle the top with nutritional yeast, fried breadcrumbs, or chopped cashews (or nothing). Or finish with a grating of parmesan cheese at the table.


Make The Recipe!

Cabbage, Leeks, and White Beans with Pasta

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Makes 4 servings 1x

Time 30 minutes

Units Scale


  • Salt
  • 1 pound Napa cabbage, trimmed and sliced into thin ribbons
  • 8 ounces small whole-wheat pasta like torchiette or fusilli
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large leek, sliced thinly and rinsed well
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 3/4 cups drained cooked or canned cannellini or other white beans (1 15-ounce can; reserve the liquid if you cooked them yourself)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the cabbage and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes; use a slotted spoon or small strainer to transfer it to a bowl. When the water returns to a boil, add the pasta and cook until tender but firm; start checking after 7 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid.
  2. Return the pot to medium heat (no need to rinse it) and when it’s dry, add the oil. Add the leeks, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the thyme and stir until fragrant, less than a minute.
  3. Add the beans and cabbage to the pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of the reserved pasta or bean cooking liquid and cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors blend and everything is hot and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. If the mixture dries out, add a little liquid; it should be saucy but not soupy.
  4. Return the pasta to the pot and toss to combine, adding a little more reserved liquid if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve, passing any garnishes at the table.

Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised Twentieth Anniversary Edition